In the early hours of the morning the We Are Here! community centre was burned to the ground.
The incident is still in the process of being investigated but, contrary to some reports, it was not the result of an electrical fault or because of a heater – our centre did not yet have heaters , nor is it connected to electricity. Evidence is pointing towards an arson attack by an isolated individual or small group, with no connection to either religious extremism or far right political parties.
Our team felt great sadness as we stood in front of the ashes of a place which was built with love and with money not from large organisations but with small donations from people all over the world.
This suspected attack has had devastating consequences for the community in the camp. Our own reactions were overshadowed by those of the people around us. Shocked faces, tears and dismay – we realised today truly how much the centre means to people. For many it was also a painful reminder of the greater destruction which they have left behind them.
Children with schoolbags on their backs looked through the rainbow fence at the place their classrooms once stood, or poked in the rubble for pens. Tears ran down the face of a member of the drama club. The centre’s librarian stood next to the charred remains of the book collection.
Amidst all the destruction, we were also overwhelmed by the outpouring of love for our team and our project. We have been there for them and today they were there for us. We were brought tea and hot food, and countless offers of help to rebuild the centre from scratch. People even offered the use of their own living containers, and our team has never felt more wanted or welcome in the camp than today.
We believe it is truly important that the community does not suffer from the actions of an individual. Until the centre is up and running again, the hundreds of people who benefited from its existence have been left with no access to adult education, hugely depleted access to children’s education, no sewing machine, no library and none of the clubs, groups and activities that help to make life in the camp more bearable.
From the overwhelming response of the people of Nea Kavala today, we believe we can take this opportunity to create a stronger centre, in which the community is yet more invested and proud.
But we need your help to do this.
Please help us provide the materials for the people in the camp to rebuild their community centre, and to replace the resources destroyed by the fire.